Once again, the British armed forces are being called upon to risk their lives in a region of the world where we are not exactly very well liked. I happen to believe the decision to bomb ISIS is deeply flawed. Here are the reasons.
1. No one has explained what we are trying to achieve. Any military adventure should have a clear political objective. No one has said what this is. If we bombed and killed every single member of ISIS and every ISIS sympathiser (which clearly we can't) all we would have achieved is to create a vacuum which another equally repugnant group would fill. It seems to me that we have a bunch of political incompetents running the west. Obama strikes me as acomplete moron and one has to conclude Cameron is no better. Obama has no vision for what he was trying to achieve. Any reading of the history books shows how the aims of a war should be mananged. Roosevelt and Churchill had a plan in 1943 for what would come after the defeat of Hitler, who was a far greater threat. This plan has ensured that Germany is now a modern democratic state.
2. The Government (and the last one) have run down the armed forces to such a point that all they can contribute is a "token precence". We read this morning that 2 Tornado jets performed a 7 hour mission. In the scheme of things, this shows just how small and peripheral the contribution is and just how little commitment the government has to actually keeping afit for purpose military machine.
3. It gives ISIS valuable propaganda material in their battle for hearts and minds. We don't really understand a Jihadist mindset. For many disaffected young muslims in the west, the concept of non muslims raining down bombs on oppressed muslims who lack the weaponry to respond is repugnant. Of course there is far more to the argument than this, but this is how ISIS propaganda portrays this.
4. An air campaign against such a rag tag army is not a fit for purpose response. The type of weaponry a Tornado carries was designed for the cold war. We have precision guided missiles and bunker busting bombs. These are being deployed against blokes driving around in Landcruisers with AK47 rifles. Each bomb probably costs £100,000. Whilst ISIS has some fixed assets in Syria where these may be useful, that is not where the RAF is being deployed.
5. The RAF are not allowed to attack Syria. This is like trying to cure a cancer patient whilst saying you won't remove the primary tumour. It is quite frankly ridiculous.
6. By ruling out ground troops, we are neither in nor out. You either support something or you don't (although I suspect that the fact they've run down the army has a lot to do with the decision).
7. If as Cameron claims, ISIS are a serious threat to the UK, then surely he can explain why. As I see it, there is zero prospect of ISIS invading the UK and toppling the deomcratically elected govt. So what is the threat? A few disaffected angry young men taking extreme actions. Does anyone thinking the current UK policy deals with this disaffection?
8. There is no UK policy to combat the internal UK threat from radical Jihadis in the UK. It is patently obvious that actions such as capturing and beheading aid workers are unislamic and that the vast majority of people killed by ISIS are fellow muslims. This should be central plank of our fight back.
9. It is nothing short of a scandal that the Government don't have a credible spokesman who represents the Muslim community in the UK within the upper echelons of the government. As a result, they have no input from anyone who understands the issues and concerns of the people we are addressing our policies at in a position to advise the government. Whilst I am sure Eton provides an excellent education, I don't believe it really gives you much of a head start when it comes to dealing with jihardi terrorists.
10. Have they learned nothing about what happens when you poke a wasps nest? Look at the timeline of our interventions in Iraq. It more or less started with the Islamic revolution in Iran in the 1970's. The West backed Saddam Hussein in Iraq as they felt he was a bulwark against the Mullahs. At the same time we backed Al Quada in Afghanistan. When Saddam & Al Qaida ceased to be useful to western interests, we then turned on them. Two gulf wars left us in the current position. The Mullahs still run Iran, Iraq has disintegrated as a single unified country, falling between areas of Iraniain and ISIS influence. It seems that all of a sudden Al Qaida are not quite so bad. We've spent billions on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and all we've managed to do is make both countries more unstable and the area more dangerous.
Of course you may say "It's easy to pick holes, what would you do?". Well for a start I wouldn't throw our forces into a conflict without a clear plan. The Iraqi govt is a mess and any intervention in Syria will simply help Assad. It may well be that an Assad govt is actually the least bad option for the Uk's interests in that region, I really don't know, but I can't see any credible alternative. It seems to me that there is a strong case for supporting the Kurds. They have a decent admintsration and have long been our allies. The Iraqi govt are in hoc to the Iranians, so I'd let the Iranians sort them out. ISIS are armed and well funded by various Wahabi interests in Saudi Arabia etc. I think our efforts should be aimed at trying to staunch this flow of cash. It also appears that black market oil is making its way into Turkey (who seem to be doing quite nicely from the deal). I'd inisit that as a NATO member Turkey seals its border. This would also stem the flow of UK Jihadis entering Syria. I would like to see the RAF's resources being directed more to humanitarian aid of refugees etc than bombing. This may win us a few friends and show that we aren't what ISIS portray us as.
Oh and I know that this Saturday list is being posted on a Sunday. It should have been posted yesterday, but I got too engrossed in all the sport yesterday to finish it off.